Posts Tagged ‘beer’

Death of the pub and the rise of coffee shops

January 1, 2018

Has the pub had its day, can it be replaced with something better?

According to a snippet on ITV News at the tail end of last year looking at the reopening of a pub, closed for a year, now reopened owned by the community, 29 pubs a week are closing.

If this figure is correct, and not simply regurgitating old statistics, then rate of pub closures as was several years ago. Actually the closure rate accelerating, four years ago it was 26 pubs a week.

Why? Why are pubs closing at an accelerating rate?

Pubcos are one cause of pub closure. These are property owning companies, zombie companies that make no money, can barely service their debt by screwing pub landlords and selling off assets, have large property holdings in pubs. They charge unaffordable rents, landlords are forced to buy drinks through the pubco well in excess of market rate, the landlord goes bankrupt, along comes the next mug to be fleeced of their life savings, or the pub if occupying a prime site sold off for redevelopment.

Pubcos are the classic example of extend and pretend. The banks keep them afloat. Kept afloat they can be listed on the balance sheet as an asset, when in reality they should be on the opposite side and would be if allowed to go bankrupt. There is no realistic possibility of loan repayment.

We also have an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Pubs were owned by breweries. The pub forced to buy from the brewery. The punter left with little or no choice, price hikes, especially if the brewery maintains a local monopoly.

The breweries were stripped of their pubs.

What should have happened, landlords bought the pubs, ran as independent businesses free of the brewery tie. Unfortunately this did not happen. Property developers, the pubcos, borrowed heavily and bought the pubs.

For a brewery, a common interest with the pub in doing well. The more beer the pub sells, the more beer the brewery sells.

For the pubco, no common interest. If the pub closes, find another fool to part from their money or sell off for redevelopment.

Pubcos though are only part of the story.

Too many pubs are badly run, very badly run. They are not pleasant places to be. Noisy, dirty, moronic music blasting out, widescreen TV, pub quizzes, drunken loud mouth idiots, rude and bored bar staff wishing they were elsewhere, serving disgusting rubbish from a global conglomerate chemical factory.

Too many examples could be given. But to list a few. A pub that served excellent, if expensive meals, changes to serving disgusting food but still overpriced; a pub where it was possible to sit in the back courtyard, relax over lunch, clueless new landlord takes over, insults the chef, chef leaves, where once excellent food, choice now burger burger or burger, illegal structures built in the courtyard, goes down market, noise and nuisance alienates neighbours and local council; historic pubs, heritage buildings, destroyed by inappropriate developments; a pub where is was pleasant to sit by the river, until smokers took over — the list is endless.

I have not named the pubs, but others could easily write similar lists, and some will know the pubs I am talking about.

Why have no lessons been learnt from Tim Martin and Wetherspoon? I am no fan of Wetherspoon, or the food they serve, but at least they try, they serve real ale. A pity they insult coffee drinkers and serve LavAzza coffee, even worse from a  machine.

But have the audacity to say pubs badly run, and the pissed trolls emerge from under their bar stools to add their ill-informed two-penny worth. And this included an abusive Camra regional official. A bit like being in a pub.

What we are seeing is an example of postcapitalism. The economy goes one of two ways.

  1. Serfs working for apps, eg Deliveroo and Uber, low paid part time temporary soul destroying McShit jobs, eg bar work, companies like Wagamama and the coffee chains.
  2. Open coops, collaborative commons, sharing society.

If pubs are to have a future, and looking at the current crisis, this is doubtful, pubcos have to be stripped of their pubs, as was the breweries, run free of tie, run as open coops, and far better managed than too many are currently.

Indie coffee shops are rapidly becoming the third place, the place to be to relax, not work, not home.

A well run indie artisan coffee shop, pleasant ambience, clean, art on the walls, live music, acoustic, jazz, classical, people sat chatting with friends, or sat reading a book or working on a laptop, craft beer, quality food and wine, books to browse, and of course serving excellent speciality coffee. And for lone females, added advantage of not being sexually harassed.

It is somewhat ironic, more likely to find craft beer, wine worth drinking, in a coffee shop than in a pub.

Warehouse Speciality Blends is known for its wine, The Underdog for craft beer,  Taylor Made for its cocktails,  Just Made 33 for its food. All serve speciality coffee, either roast their own beans or source from a reputable roastery, take a pride in their coffee.

Atlantis Cafe is a coffee shop in Liopetri, a one horse town, difficult to get to, where tumbleweed blowing through would not look out of place, a coffee shop with a pleasant ambience, where people relax, chat with their friends, play backgammon, that is busy until late. In the tourist areas, the slum bars attract the drunks, the bottom end of the tourist market, stay open until late, but are not busy, many are facing closure. The tourist industry spiralling downwards, the situation in the Middle East granting a temporary reprieve.

Atlantis Cafe, middle of nowhere, is busier than the tourist bars.

Coffee shops in Europe were the places of intellectual dialogue, political and philosophical discourse, haunts of artists. This did not happen in the English ale house, violent political discourse would have rapidly led to blood being shed.  The amount of alcohol consumed leading to retarded offspring.

When was the last time you saw bouncers on the door or a fight break out in a coffee shop?

What if a pub closes, a building that has historic value, is registered locally as a building of historic value, its community value recognised by registering as an Asset of Community Value (though it is difficult to claim a pub an Asset of Community Value when a myth it ever was), sits empty for several months, is stripped bare, restored to how it was as an historic building, reopens as an artisan coffee shop by people who are passionate about coffee, maybe in the evening a restaurant, where the emphasis is on ambience, service, good food, serves craft beer, wine, a venue that hosts cultural events, live music, book discussions and book signings, poetry reading, serves as a gallery for local artists, have we lost anything, or has the community and the local economy gained?

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Anspach & Hobday bottled craft beer

July 21, 2017

I had never heard of Anspach & Hobday bottled craft beer until Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday introduced four bottles at a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

Four bottles of craft beer, with an explanation on each: The IPA, The Pale Ale, The Smoked Brown and The Sour Dry Hop.

The IPA and The Pale Ale hoppy and bitter, The Smoked Brown hints of smoked bacon,  I decided to give a miss.  The Sour Dry Hop I tried. Very unusual, hints of elder flower.

I suggested, as we had had coffee cupping, now time for beer cupping.

I was invited to pay their brewery in Bermondsey a visit.

It is always a good sign to see small indie businesses, promoting quality and innovation, supporting each other.

 

cerveza en Magic Corner

February 20, 2016
Dorada Especial Roja

Dorada Especial Roja

Dorada Especial Roja en Magic Corner.

Magic Corner, formerly Maggies, illustrates all what is wrong with bars in Puerto de la Cruz and why they are empty and why the local tourist industry is collapsing.

Noisy, no decent beer on tap.  I was the only one there last night, and the night before.

The only reason I was there, free wifi and very heavy rain.

It has closed, re-opened, closed, re-opened.

La Atlantico Beer Shop

March 19, 2015
La Atlantico Beer Shop

La Atlantico Beer Shop

It is usual to see a wine shop, racks of wine. Far less usual to see similar selling bottles of beer.

Each bottle has a tied on label giving information on the beer.

Fair deal for pubs

November 19, 2014
Sharp's Doom Bar

Sharp’s Doom Bar

Last night saw an historic victory for pubs. The government was defeated in the House of Commons.

The result

  • pub landlords will be able to have their rents reviewed by an independent body
  • pubs will be able to terminate the pubco tie
  • pubs will be able to by their drinks on the open market, not at artificially inflated prices from the pubos

Pubs are understandably delighted.

For beer drinkers, no more rubbish beer in the pub and prices should drop.

The shares of pubos have gone into free fall.

The pubcos say this is bad news for pubs, will lead to more pub closures.

Why then are pub landlords celebrating?

It means their businesses becomes viable. Currently, only free houses (not tied to pubcos) are viable.

It will only lead to more pub closures if pubcos sell off more pubs to service their debt (which is what they have been doing).

Shame on those MPs who voted in favour of the pubcos.

Name and shame your MP.

We know Gerald Howarth voted for the pubcos. Is anyone surprised?

We must thanks Greg Mulholland and Caroline Lucas whose hard work made this possible.

Slowly slowly, we are starting to see self-serving politicians act for the people not Big Business.

Last night another historic victory. In the US Senate the Keystone XL Pipeline (to bring oil from tar sands in Canada to the US) was defeated.

Today, students tore down the fencing and once again occupied Parliament Square. Remember liar Nick Clegg who promised free student tuition fees and voted with his Tory cronies to triple student fees.

Yesterday, the Czech President was egged.

Today, people took to the streets in Hungary to bring down the corrupt government.

The Little Beer Corporation

May 30, 2014
The Little Beer Corporation

The Little Beer Corporation

Always something new.

Today I learnt Guildford has a microbrewery, or as they call themselves, a nanobrewery.

I came across these beers in of all places a butcher, The Joint, in Jeffries Passage in Guildford, not where you’d expect to find beer (they have wine too), but then no ordinary butcher. But then you do not expect to see a butcher opening in the heart of a town centre.

The Little Beer Corporation has a surprisingly large range. They were established through crowd funding. I am surprised they do not have a stall on the Guildford farmers market.

The businesses model is different to most microbreweries, hope to find an outlet in a few pubs, and rely on Wetherspoon to pick up what is left at knock down price before it is poured down the drain. The Little Beer Corporation sell direct to their supporters, plus local outlets like The Joint.

Assuming they have a drinks licence, and assuming this beer is any good (I have yet to try), Harris + Hoole would be a good place to have on sale. And Café Mila in Godalming.

For a business that is locally based, community supported, I am shocked that they direct people to listen to music on spotify. Maybe they are not aware of the extent to which spotify rips off musicians. Please direct to sites like bandcamp, that actually support musicians.

Coffee replaces beer as drink of choice for cash-strapped students

October 22, 2012

A university bar in Wales has been forced to close as students swap cider for cappucino as a cheaper option in an era of £9,000 a year tuition fees.

coffee v beer

coffee v beer

A student bar at Aberystwyth University, where Prince Charles once spent a term, has shut due to a lack of patronage from students who have grown up in a Britain more preoccupied with “coffee culture”.

Student president Ben Meakin said: “More students are drinking coffee during the day while studying – and fewer are going out late into the night.”

The 15,000 students who attend the university were once well known for their love of drinking and a “party hard” mentality, but that has changed with the current undergraduate cohort – who will pay £9,000 in fees.

Mr Meakin added: “This is partly because of the rise in tuition fees and students having to face further financial hardship.

“So the university have chosen to improve the main union building to make it a more appealing living room on campus during the day time.”

Institutions including Birmingham, Exeter and City University in London all serve Starbucks or Costa branded coffee on campus.

Elsewhere in Wales, Glyndwr University shut its union bar and moved it last summer and Cardiff Met chose to open a new coffee bar franchise.

A National Union of Students has charted the rise in popularity of gourmet coffee among students in a report, which emphasised: “Students’ Unions will need to embrace the whole coffee experience.

“For those students who do not wish to spend significant levels of their income on alcoholic drinks coffee shops are a promising prospect.”

Entire forums on the popular Student Room website are dedicated to coffee loving students and to the purchase and care of their espresso machines.

The rise of “coffee culture” is imported from the US, where alcohol is illegal in many states for under-21s and a larger workload means students are not able to drink alcohol socially as often as their British counterparts.

First published in The Telegraph.

A good example of sloppy journalism.

Of what relevance Prince Charles once drank in a bar in Cardiff?

Students always have drank coffee, they drank it in their rooms, in their kitchens, invited mate round for a chat.

What is new, over the last decade, is binge drinking.

I would even question is drinking coffee cheaper than drinking beer. Whitbread bought, the rapidly expanded the Costa chain because more money is to be made from coffee than brewing beer.

What is disgusting is the way Starbucks and Costa are taking over university campuses. Are universities and students no longer capable of running their own coffee bars?